|Sergio Garcia: Now just another decent player to come out of Europe. (Courtesy of the PGA of America)|
Like many of you out there, I have long been dazzled by the ability and charisma of Sergio Garcia. I fully bought into the idea that Sergio could be the next Seve Ballesteros and provide Tiger Woods with a generation-long challenge.
And I, like many others, was terribly, terribly wrong. With the PGA Championship underway, we will again witness the spectacular mediocrity of Garcia. At the Boston Herald, Ron Borges poetically tells the tale that began at the PGA Championship when Garcia was but 19:
"Garcia nearly caught [Tiger] Woods ... coming from 5 shots back to lose by a stroke after hitting what is still the most dramatic shot of his career. With his ball wedged against a tree root on the 16th hole, Garcia swung for the fences with his eyes closed at a blind green and then bounded up the fairway, leaping with a scissor kick to watch the ball miraculously nestle onto the green. He was, at that moment, the definition of joy," wrote Borges. "As things have turned out that was as high as Sergio Garcia ever got."
Now 29, Garcia has gathered just seven PGA Tour wins (not bad, but compare it to Tiger's 70). His best finish in a major was a second-place at the 2008 British Open and 2008 PGA Championship - events he should have won.
In the decade since the 81st PGA Championship, Garcia's game and personality have come under scrutiny. At this stage of his career, Garcia is no longer the future of European golf. Now, he's just another decent player to come out of Europe.
So what's happened to Sergio? What does the future hold for a golfer who was once considered one of the best in the game? We spoke to Hack, a blogger and certified golf expert at NiceBallz.com to get some insight into the Spaniard's game, personality and lack of triumphs.
BadGolfer: So where does Sergio Garcia's legacy currently stand?
Hack: When an Internet search on your name yields 'best player never to win a major' within the first page of results (after your official web pages, bio info and a smattering of swooning fan pages) you know you're at risk of having your career highlights become a gag reel of disappointments that even Colin Montgomerie would feel uncomfortable watching.
BadGolfer: Have we seen anything good from Garcia in 2009 thus far?
Hack: Of late, he's been in the headlines less for being in contention, than for nearly braining a spectator at Firestone with an errant shot, being dumped by Greg Norman's daughter and a string of "open mouth, insert foot" comments that is longer than his bank account balance.
BadGolfer.com: How has Garcia's record affected how he's viewed in the U.S.?
Hack: Here's the thing - I actually like having Sergio around. He's gifted and arguably doesn't 'pretend' to be something he's not. Though, how would any of us really know who is pretending and who is just an insolent jerk by nature?
Nearly everyone loves Tiger and on the flip side, in the U.S. anyway, how often do you hear someone professing their love of Sergio? Sales of "I Love Sergio" shirts probably aren't skyrocketing. And let's be honest, how long can the lure of the handsome, brooding but misunderstood star last? After all Adam Scott usurped the title of sexiest (male) golfer from Sergio a while ago.
He's a great anti-hero, the guy you are fascinated by but have a hard time cheering for because he consistently comes across as, well, what's the word? Oh yeah: a jerk.
BadGolfer.com: How can Sergio turn things around?
Hack: Maybe if Sergio just had shown a bit more accountability over the years for how he's fared in competition he'd have a more broadly sympathetic public shoulder to cry upon. Instead it's always the whining:
- This course doesn't like me
- It was so unfair how many putts I had lip out
- They'd have delayed play if Tiger were out there
- My heart is broken so I am not playing well.
In the end, even Hack can't deny that he enjoys having Garcia around. And the fact is, with his personality and good looks, he's good for the game. But as a contender at major events, he's just not someone to be considered any longer.
So who will win the PGA Championship? Will it be Tiger? Or Padraig? Or Lefty? Who knows. One thing is crystal clear, however - it won't be Sergio.
August 13, 2009
William K. Wolfrum keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. You can follow him on Twitter @Wolfrum.
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